President Joe Biden introduced his “Build Back Better” plan with pink slips to 11,000 workers connected to the Keystone XL Pipeline in January.
“We can put people to work in good jobs,” Biden pledged on Inauguration Day, hours before the new president revoked Keystone’s permit to bring Canadian tar sands oil down through Nebraska to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Nine months later, another Canadian pipeline successfully crossed the finish line to complete the construction of a new route from the same source similarly attacked by environmental activists.
Early this month, oil began to flow through the newly built Line 3 replacement pipeline from the Alberta tar sands, running a 337-mile stretch through Minnesota to end up at the Superior Terminal in northwest Wisconsin, just across the border from Duluth.
The pipe’s operations, expected to carry 760,000 barrels at full capacity by mid-month, could be considered a triumph under an administration hostile to fossil fuel development.
The White House silence on Line 3’s construction, however, has left activists who landed an early victory with the shut down of the Keystone project frustrated at the stalled progress on the green agenda.
A $3 Billion Insurance Policy
The Line 3 Replacement project was launched by the Calgary-based energy firm Enbridge in 2017 after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered aging pipelines to be replaced.
The existing line, mapped below by the company, had been in operation since the 1960s and had corroded after decades of use, becoming an environmental hazard by springing dozens of leaks.
In 1991, a pipeline rupture spilled 1.7 million gallons of crude oil into the Prairie River near Grand Rapids, Minn., in the largest inland U.S. oil spill.
It threatened to seep into the Mississippi. Because the spill happened in the winter, dense river ice enabled crews to keep the oil from reaching the North American artery.
The recent Hurricane Ida reinforced valuable lessons about the fragile nature of decaying infrastructure.
After the category 4 storm barreled through the Louisiana gulf coast in August, 55 spill reports were recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, highlighting the importance of replacement projects in the absence of viable alternatives at scale to satisfy allies of the Green New Deal.
Rather than abandon the pipeline, Enbridge initiated a $2.9 billion project to construct a new one while it cleans up the old.
Those with property encompassing the outdated pipeline may decide under the landowner choice program whether to leave the pipe in the ground or compel the company to dig it up and scrap the material.
According to the company website, the project generated at least 6,500 local jobs, pouring billions into local communities in the process, primarily in northern Minnesota.
Tyler Fjeld, a mechanic in Floodwood, which is home to fewer than 1,000 residents, said he’s seen the pipeline’s benefits firsthand.
“They’ve spent a lot of money in the community,” Fjeld told The Federalist, citing business at his own shop, one of two auto stores in the area. The workers rent hotel rooms, service their vehicles in town, and pay frequent visits to the local bars and restaurants. “They really stimulate our economy in a small town like this.”
Others in Floodwood were unbothered by the pipeline in their own backyards, even after construction crews upstream pierced an aquifer in Clearwater County 150 miles northwest.
The accident led to a $3.3 million fine by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the company’s apparent deviation from the construction plan that led to 24 million gallons of groundwater being released. Enbridge has until Friday to cork the well it created, and no charges have been filed as of this writing.
“Things are going to happen, that’s life,” said Karen Lace, a local barkeep in Floodwood. “I don’t have any objections to the pipeline.”
Although a new pipeline is far safer than the old one, Fjeld said he had zero concerns about the pipeline’s safety.
“They have valves every so far, so if an oil line breaks, that line gets shut down almost simultaneously,” Fjeld said.
Protestors of Line 3, however, have pledged to push onward even as options dwindle to cancel the project over alleged environmental concerns and tribal sovereignty.
Read rest at The Federalist
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